Castle Roland

A Special Place

by Sequoyah


Chapter 40

Posted: N/A

A Special Place--Part Forty--Matt

I awoke to the sound of birds singing in the predawn light, raised up on an elbow and looked at my sleeping soulmate. I remembered our love-making the night before and felt his having entered me. It was not an unpleasant feeling, quite the contrary. His love-making had been careful, gentle and loving, but intense. My eyes started filling with tears of sheer joy. But then I remembered how I had attempted to enter my beautiful Luke and was suddenly ashamed of myself. I had been too quick and too careless because I was thinking of myself. Of course Luke had made light of it, but I was ashamed. I felt more tears welling up in my eyes. I was filled with conflicting emotions: extreme sorrow for having hurt Luke and thanksgiving for the overwhelming joy I felt for being loved by the man who was my life. As the two emotions filled my being, my eyes overflowed and a tear dropped to Luke's hard chest.

That tear and the ones which followed disturbed Luke's sleep and slowly his eyes opened. "Luke, Yonghon Tongmu, I am so filled with joy that someone as beautiful, loving and caring as you loves me as you do and I am so sorry and so ashamed I hurt you," I said through the tears streaming down my face.

"Ashamed and sorry? Why? Why, Matt?"

"Because I hurt you last night being selfish. Luke, I was so intent on getting inside you, uniting my body with yours, as my spirit has always been, that I hurt you and I am ashamed and so sorry, so very, very sorry." I was crying now, out of control.

Luke reached up and pulled me to himself, placed his lips against mine for a tender, soft kiss. "Matt, we both know you are always ready to go further and faster than I am. I know that you had no intention of hurting me--and you didn't, not seriously anyway. But even more importantly, you were eager to love me, fully, completely, totally--and for that I am eternally thankful."

"Luke, you're just trying to make me feel better."

"No, I'm trying to make you realize that your love-making was a dream come true for me. Was it perfect? I guess if I had to give it a rating I'd say the beginning was probably a six or seven but, Babe, the rest was pure ten. Next time will be better, but the first time made the stars sing for me." Having said that, Luke once again placed his lips against mine and a kiss which started gentle and tender soon became filled with passion. As he broke our kiss, he got that evil Luke grin on his face and said, "All you need is more practice. Now make love to me."

This time I was not going to make a mistake.

In the predawn light, I made love to Luke and, this time, I was gentle, caring, loving. As my climax approached, I pulled Luke's lips to mine and sucked his tongue into my mouth just as I was hit by a bolt of lightning. As it continued, I experienced what Luke had experienced before--I passed out from the sheer pleasure and intensity of my climax and my love for my Bright Angel.

When I was again conscious, Luke smiled up at me and said, "See, I told you practice would improve your love-making". I noticed then that Luke's hard stomach was also covered with man's seed. The intensity of my love-making had also bought him to a climax. That wonderful feeling which follows love-making filled both of us as we lay in each other's arms.

Luke finally said, "Matt, you know I love you and all that, but to tell you the truth, we're kinda yucky from our love making. How about a quick swim?"

"You think we can stand the water? It's kinda chilly."

"I'll get you warm again soon enough!" Luke jumped up, grabbed the soap Margaret had given us, and two towels, and headed for the river. He tossed the towels and soap on the water's edge and dived in. I knew the water would feel cold, but I also knew I'd never make it unless I jumped straight in so I dived in behind him. We splashed around for a few minutes then Luke got the soap and started lathering my body, paying particular attention to Chili Pepper. As soon as he had me covered with lather, I took the soap and did the same for him. "Luke, Babe, you are turning blue!" I laughed when I saw him covered with goosebumps and shivering. We both dived under the water, swam for a few minutes, then got out. We started rubbing each other vigorously with the towels, getting dry and a bit warmer. When we finished, we again lay on the bed, covered with a warm blanket and cuddling, getting warm.

I was laying on top of Luke, running my fingers through his hair, kissing him from time to time when he looked up at me and said, "Sarang Hanun Pomul, let's watch the sun rise on our new life together". As I got off the top of his body, he grabbed the blanket from the bed, wrapped it around our shoulders and we walked to Lookout Rock, our arms about each other's waist. When we reached the lookout, we sat down, me between Luke's legs, and he pulled my body to his. I twisted around for kiss after kiss, then we sat in silence as the morning rays of the sun announced the arrival of a new day--the first day in our new life together.

When the sun was fully above the horizon, Luke took the blanket from our shoulders, spread it on the rock, and was atop my body in a flash, kissing me, licking and kissing my chest and nipples which he also started nipping, making love to my body. He kissed his way down my body, then his mouth and tongue were making me very hot, giving me so much pleasure, I was groaning. When he took one then the other of my family jewels into his mouth I was in pure heaven, but nothing compared to what I felt when he started kissing Chili Pepper. '"Luke, I can't stand it. Please take me into your mouth," I begged. Luke did as I asked, keeping his eyes fastened on mine. His tongue gave me pleasure I couldn't have imagined before last night and this morning was better! He started moving his mouth up and down Chili Pepper very slowly and then increased in tempo. He was also stroking Chili Pepper as his mouth gave me more and more pleasure. I was moaning and whimpering again. As he looked into my eyes, he smiled without stopping his love-making, still moving his mouth up and down on Chili Pepper. Without thought, my hips started rising to meet his mouth's movement. For the second time in the morning's early light, my climax exploded, rocked my being. Chili Pepper was so sensitive that it was almost painful as Luke continued to move his mouth up and down him, then he realized how I felt and withdrew his mouth and kissed Chili Pepper then me. He lay atop my body and I wrapped my arms around him, kissing him deeply, passionately, lovingly.

I reached down and took Little Luke into my hand and found him hard already. Now it was my time to kiss my way to that wonderful part of my Luke. Recalling all he had done to give me pleasure, I took my time, kissing and licking his manhood--all of it. Ever the not-so-subtle Luke, he was urging me on until I finally enclosed Little Luke in my mouth. When Luke climaxed, once again I swallowed rapidly, not wanting to waste a drop of the salty sweetness of his gift to me. As we lay in each others arms, Luke said "Sarang Hanun Pomul, that's two tens you have given me this morning".

"Yonghon Tongmu, the pleasure you gave me was two tens only if ten is perfection and there is no higher score!" We continued lying in each others arms, kissing and telling each other of our love until Luke said, "Matt, you know that I love you and sex with you is more wonderful than I could have imagined, but there is something else that occupies what is left of a teenage mind when sex is taken away."

"Food," I laughed.

"Right. Babe, I am starved."

"Maybe I need to feed you again," I laughed.

"Don't get me wrong, Dark Angel, but I think I'd like breakfast right now."

In a pouty voice I said, "You'll take breakfast over me?"

"Babe, I've had you, but I haven't had breakfast." With those words, we got up, walked to the bottom of the falls, arm-in-arm, stopping for some passionate kisses.

"I see you like tongue for breakfast," I said after one especially passionate kiss.

"I like tongue anytime," Luke laughed, "but right now I want food!"

We dressed and, leaving everything as it was, walked to the Jeep. As we emerged from the cane brake, I saw Jens and Gabrielle leaving their house. "I guess that settles that," I said. "I guess we'll have to deal with Mom and Dad's cooking."

"Let me at it," Luke said as he hopped in the Jeep.

When we reached my place, there were four places set at the kitchen table. "You're expecting company?" Luke asked.

"No, we figured after a night of wild sex our sons would show up for the second most important thing in a teenager's life," Dad laughed. "And from the looks on your faces, I sense that I was not wrong about the night and, with the way you two headed straight for the kitchen, I don't think I was wrong on the second count either! Get washed up, breakfast will be in five minutes.

When we came down, breakfast was ready and we sat down. Dad didn't do his usual quick grace, but added a thanksgiving for his two sons and their love and for giving them a wonderful night to express their love for each other.

"I wonder how many sons are lucky enough to have their father offer thanks for their loving each other," Luke asked very seriously. "Wouldn't it be great if all parents were thankful their sons were loved and loved in return? Greywolf, Yong Jin, as Greywolf was saying grace, I was so thankful that you accept Matt and me and our love for each other. We surely have had it easy when I think of what Eugene has gone through. Thanks," he said as he got up and kissed Mom and Dad on the cheek, hugging them. Old cool Luke had tears in his eyes.

"Luke, you know I count you as a son, but Matt is my flesh and blood. His dad named him Sarang Hanun Pomul because when he was born he was our Beloved Treasure--and he still is. Nothing will ever change that. He is Sarang Hanun Pomul, gay or straight. And you are his Yonghon Tongmu, his soulmate. He is happy. You make him happy, therefore there is only reason to give thanks for the two of you and your love. There is no room for anything else or anything less," Mom said.

A silence followed Mom's words and only the noise of eating was heard. Suddenly Luke laughed, "You want to know, but are too polite to ask. That's why there's a silence. Well, I can tell you: your son is no longer a virgin, the sex was great, waiting probably made it better and we both got loved and made love--no fucking, Greywolf--just making love with our whole bodies, no holding back."

Mom and Dad roared laughing. So did Luke as I turned redder and redder.

"I think I pretty much figured that out," Mom said, "the minute you two walked in the door, arm-in-arm. But, Matt, I was a bit worried because you left a package...."

"So did I," Luke confessed, "but Uncle Michael and Mr. Stephenson saved the day again."

"Well, we're off to school. Teachers don't get to take a skip day,' Dad said.

"I trust you are taking seriously the Fellowship's declaration of a skip day," Mom said. "I have. Gabrielle, Margaret and I have prepared food and drinks for the day. They are in the cooler and baskets over there, along with some other things you might need," she said, pointing to a large cooler and three picnic baskets by the kitchen door. "Are you going to need anything else?"

"I'll grab some more towels and a couple more blankets. I think that will do it. Sure sorry Michael is missing out," I added.

"Don't bank on it," Dad said.

After Mom and Dad left for school, Luke and I went upstairs and took a long, hot shower. I was happy to learn that our new freedom in love-making had not lessened the pleasures of old. We played and held each other in the shower as we had always done except there wasn't a great deal of playing with Chili Pepper or Little Luke. To tell the truth, Chili Pepper was a bit on the tender side and Luke said, "I think Little Luke is a bit sore from his new exercise routine," and we both got the giggles which were not stopped when we tried kissing each other.

We took our time drying our hair. Luke was now wearing a headband all the time to keep some control over his beautiful golden halo. Hair dry, we dressed in shorts and open shirts, took the picnic things to the Jeep and returned to the falls just before 9:00.

Promptly at 9:00 all hell broke loose. Car horns were blaring and Eugene's trumpet was sounding "Charge!" Luke and I rushed down the path to see Bill's car, Michael's Tracker and Eugene's convertible all parked beside the Jeep. Bill, Mary Kathryn, who was driving the Tracker, and Larry, who was driving Eugene's car, were all leaning on the car horns. Eugene was standing on the passenger's side of his car, blowing his trumpet for all he was worth. Mom was right, Michael was not left out. A make-shift stretcher rested across the back of Eugene's convertible and on it lay Michael.

There were hugs all around and then Jacob and Bill helped Michael to his feet and placed their arms under his to steady him. The others grabbed whatever they had brought and, with Eugene trumpeting away, we walked down the path to the falls.

When we reached the falls, Bill said, "Ok, Mary Kathryn, clean sheets for this bed of sin so I can help Michael down". Damned if Mary Kathryn, Linda and Paula didn't take the sheets from the bed where Luke and I had made love, carefully folded them as one would have done the flag and, as Eugene played "More," presented one to me and one to Luke in a manner as formal as you can imagine. Luke laughed and I blushed.

As soon as that was over, Bill and Jacob carefully helped Michael to the bed. "Hey, I won't break," he said. "A good cat gave his guts to hold me together!" The expression on his face told a slightly different story. It was still a bit painful for him to move or be moved in certain ways.

As soon as Michael was settled, everyone sat on or near the bed. "I hope you don't think we are invading your time and space," Paula said when all were settled.

"Well, I suspect we could have worked in a few more tumbles in bed had you not shown up," Luke said. "I mean, Matt might have gotten bored, but seriously, with all that has been going on, graduation kinda slipped up on us--me at least. I know we had planned to ditch school one day, and this is it. And while I plan to spend an awful lot of time in the next fifty or ninety years making love to my Sarang Hanun Pomul, I just suddenly realized that we have very few days to be together as the Fellowship. I wouldn't have thought about it...."

"Yea, we know you had only one thing on your mind," Michael laughed.

"Smartass. I didn't think about graduation, but I'm glad someone did. I'm glad you're here."

"That goes for me as well. Man, I could get all sad if I thought about that a lot, but today's for fun," I added.

"Except maybe for one thing. Matt and I have to do speeches and I think it would be great if we took some time as the Fellowship to talk about those."

"Great idea, Luke," I said. "After lunch when we are just lazing around."

"You know, while I was ditching school for the hospital, I got to thinking about the Fellowship--I mean how it came to be and all it's been through," Michael said. "I mean, only a few weeks ago the Fellowship didn't exist, there were just a few smartasses calling themselves the Select Few. Now look... We have been rejoined by Linda, Bill and Jacob have become a part of all of us and so have Larry and Eugene. We have lost one--Sheldon--and gained some really great people who have stuck together through a lot of pretty tough shit."

"Gad, I forgot. I had news of Sheldon to pass along but, when all hell broke loose, I forgot. Seems Sheldon's mom called about a week and a half ago, crying and weeping because Sheldon was in trouble. 'The richy bitch daughter of one of the town's most self-important families is accusing my Shelly of getting her pregnant. She claims he spent a weekend with her at her family's lake house, having sex. I knew she was lying because Shelly was in Concord attending the prom and parties with you,' she told me. 'Would you be so kind as to confirm that? The girl's family wanted to get Shelly charged with statutory rape, but she is over sixteen and can give consent to sex, so that was out. But now they want Shelly to pay for an abortion. He is so upset and I thought you would want to clear his name.'"

"So Sheldon got what he wanted and now doesn't want to pay," Linda said. "How very like a man!"

"Does that include me," Bill asked and he wasn't laughing.

"I'm sorry, Bill. No, that doesn't include you. It doesn't include any of you guys. "Well, hell, it doesn't include anyone except those guys who want to fuck every girl they meet and walk away--leaving broken hearts behind and, too often, kids. I apologize to all of you. Just an unthinking--prejudiced--comment. I'm sorry," Linda said and kissed Bill softly. "No, it's not like a man at all, come to think of it. It's like a spoiled brat."

"No disagreement there," Paula said. "I told Sheldon's mom that he had been here, but all he did was pester me for sex which I would not provide, so he got mad and left early Sunday morning. 'That couldn't be,' she replied. 'He didn't get home until Monday evening.' I suggested she check to learn when the girl had left home and when she got back and she told me the girl's parents had said she left in her car about mid-afternoon Sunday and came back Monday night, having called Sunday to say she was spending the night with a friend. It was obvious to me that Sheldon called her, took her to the lake and had sex with her Sunday night and Monday and then, for whatever reason, dumped her. She, however, had a memento of their time together--she was pregnant. So the Fellowship never had Sheldon and wouldn't have lost much had he been a part of it. End of story. Well, I think it's time to get naked," Paula laughed, stood up and started undressing. She was followed by everyone except Luke and me--and, of course, Michael. Soon they were all diving from the top of the falls and swimming in the basin.

"Chelsea says she checked with Mom and I can swim if I can stand it--but I have to be careful and take it easy, but I don't want to right now. You guys go on."

"Laters," Luke said. "You said you wanted to talk to us. Is now a good time?"

Michael became very silent. He was sitting up, but his head was down. He kept staring at his hands, folded in his lap. Finally he raised his head, "Yea but, first, was it as good as you thought it would be?" he asked with the new Michael wicked grin.

"You can't imagine how good," Luke said, "and, Man, it's about loving!"

"Sad you agreed to wait?"

"No, I'm not," I answered. "We weren't ready. We had too much to work through. We had to rethink what our friendship was about and build on that; then we could become lovers fully and completely. I'm glad we took the time. Besides, we have a lifetime to make up for any lost opportunities," I smiled.

"I knew that would be the way it was," Michael said. "Well, I've got a couple or three things I want to talk about--I need to talk about. First off, I need to talk and have you two listen because, otherwise, you're going to tell me to forget it and I can't and need not to. Ok?" Luke and I nodded. "I need to talk about wanting to die or, I guess, to stay dead. I look back on that and realize I just wanted out of the pain. When I was dead, I felt I was forgetting all of you and even my love for Mary Kathryn was slipping away." Michael had tears in his eyes, something seldom seen. "Now, I realize just how precious every moment is. I know I am going to miss my brothers like crazy when you go to Oberlin, but you'll still be there if I need you. I look at Mary Kathryn and I want to live to be a thousand if she's with me. I know I'm only sixteen and she is too but, brothers, I don't think I could love her more if I were fifty. She is my whole life and I savor every moment of living just knowing she is here and she loves me. And I needed you to know that."

Michael fell silent and Luke put his arm around him and said, "Michael, I know exactly how you feel. You can understand how I feel when I realize I almost killed myself, but the good side to that is all that was made possible by it--including having an appreciation for every single minute I'm alive. So, yes, I understand what you mean."

"Well, there's something else I think I learned from the whole experience. I was well on my way to becoming a complete asshole. I guess all sixteen-year-olds--males especially"--Michael smiled--"believe they are immortal and I was definitely proven wrong on that score but, also, I think I felt I was all-knowing. I knew everything. I was always right. I was becoming a self-righteous prick...."

"Michael..." I started to say.

"I talk, you listen," Michael said quickly. "Sure, I know what I did about the service for Gregory was right on. I know that most of what I did was right, but I was beginning to feel that anyone who disagreed with me or who had a different idea was bad wrong. Well, my brush with suicide--and that's what it was--sure taught me that I was not all-powerful or always right. I hope I remember that lesson and, if not, you'll remind me of it. I would hate to become a self-righteous bigot, even if I am right! And another thing, I know that I have been a track star where angels tiptoe, and that's one thing I don't want to change. I talked to Fr. Tom about that and he says his only regret is that he has always been too cautious, too careful, fearing to take stands that were right because it would offend someone. I don't want to ever think that about myself."

"Don't think there's any reason to fear there, Lil Bro!"

Michael smiled and said, "Ok, next item on the agenda. It has to do with this summer. It's kinda like what you two faced--well kinda. When the bishop was here, he asked all of us to consider being counselors at Camp St. Francis this summer. Bill and Linda are going and I think Larry and Eugene may, depending on what Eugene has to do for McBride's federal trial. Mary Kathryn and I have talked about it, but I don't think I'm up to it right now. Maybe physically, but not mentally and emotionally. Mary Kathryn understands part of that, but there's another side which I'll get to later. Anyway, we are going to be separated for a month this summer. I'm sure of that. I haven't told Mary Kathryn the whole story but, whether she goes or not, we are going to be separated. I think that's a good idea--not that I like it--since we have been together our whole lives and I think time apart right now would be helpful. But I'm afraid... well, I want our first time together--you know--to be like yours. You know, planned and not just...." Michael was having a hard time, but both Luke and I kept our mouths shut. "Ok, to be blunt, it is going to be so easy to have sex 'to remember each other' before we separate or to celebrate our being back together. I mean the temptation is great enough now, but then we'll have a reason. Help me out, Brothers."

Luke smiled and said, "Michael, seems to me you have it all figured out already."

"Lil Bro, Luke doesn't quite understand. I do. Look, the only reason--the absolutely only reason--last night was our super special, stars spinning first night of making love without bounds was because of our brother. Cool Luke, that's what he is. Several times I was ready to go at it big time and each time Luke was willing, but asked me if that was what I really, deep down, wanted. The answer to that was yes and no, but each time because of Luke, the final answer was no. I don't know which of you two will have to take responsibility for making your first time special and not a rush job, but each of you will have to remind the other from time to time, I suspect. I will tell you, although many times I didn't think so, the waiting and having a special night was the right choice. Talk about it with Mary Kathryn. You two will have to decide when the time is right."

"Hell, I knew you'd say that. But moving on so you two can hit the water. Remember when Millie said, 'Michael, I don't know whether you're going to end up a lawyer or a priest' or something like that?" Luke and I nodded. "And, Luke, do you remember what you said when I said something like, 'I never thought about that'?"

Luke laughed, "Yea. I said 'You'd not be able NOT to think about it after this'. I thought about that the other day and said to myself, 'And he hasn't been able not to think about it'. And I was right."

"You were right. But it's not simple. Especially since I recovered consciousness in the hospital, I have been thinking, 'Ok, so you were given your life back. For what? Just to live as another cog in some wheel?' I don't think so. I have always assumed, since I was a little kid and watched those TV lawyer shows, that was what I was going to do. I liked the idea of defending some poor jerk who was innocent or putting some shitass like McBride behind bars. It was thrilling. It still is. But you're right. Ever since Millie made that statement, I haven't been able not to think about becoming a priest."

"I have talked to Fr. Tom about it and he has been helpful in some ways, but he keeps telling me I would never be the kind of priest he is. 'You'd never be as comfortable as I have been with things I should have spoken out against, so you will always be in hot water.' But he has also said, 'A lawyer may save an innocent person or put a guilty one in jail, but,' he says, 'it's a one-at-a-time thing. A good priest can influence a large number of people to do that. A good priest helps many people take stands, change their minds, work for justice and goodness and love.' Well, I think I see his point, but I'm still confused. I talked to Dad and Mom and both think I need time to think and reflect. Fr. Tom has suggested I might consider spending some time at a Benedictine abbey so I could think through things and I have decided to do that. Now, how do I tell Mary Kathryn?"

I'll admit I had thought about Millie's remark and had thought I wouldn't be surprised if Michael decided to become a priest. I remembered the dream where he was presiding over Luke's and my commitment ceremony, but it still came as a shock. I mean, becoming a priest... Michael wearing a weird collar? Obviously Luke was as shocked as I. We both were silent. After several minutes, Luke finally said, "Well, Michael, I think you'll just have to tell her."

"Holy shit, I knew that would be your answer."

"Can't run your life, Lil Bro," I said, "but I'm beside you."

"Me too," Luke said as Bill yelled, "You lovers going to come in or not?"

Linda, Paula and Mary Kathryn had gotten out of the water and Mary Kathryn was walking toward us. Linda and Paula had spread a blanket a short distance from Michael and were sunning themselves. Luke and I stripped off our shorts and shirts as Mary Kathryn sat beside Michael and picked up a small bottle and started rubbing some kind of oil on his chest. "Luke, I think it's time we hit the water," I laughed as Michael looked up, first with that new smile then with a "why are you abandoning me?" look.

After we had swam for a while, the four of us were just standing in water up to our nipples when Jacob said, "Guys, I have a major problem".

"What is this?" Luke laughed. "I thought this was a ditch school and have fun day and it's more like 'Dear Abbie'! All right, young man, what is your problem?"

"Ok, you all know I like to play the field. I mean not fuck around--sorry, Bill. I mean I don't--didn't want to get tied down to one girl. I wanted to be free to go out with a lot of girls, not find one to take home to my mom, but I've got a problem. See, I think I'm falling for Paula. Damn, she is some woman! I like everything about her--her independence, her values, her willingness to take a stand. She's a damn strong woman and makes me feel like a real man when I am around her. As I said, I think I might be falling--shit, I may as well be honest--I have fallen for Paula, big time and I don't know what to do about it!"

"Have you said anything to her?" Bill asked.

"No, I'm... Well, to tell the truth, I'm afraid to. I have never wanted to be attached to a woman and I'm afraid.... Shit, I'm afraid she will tell me to get lost. I don't know how I would take that. I'm afraid..."

"It would end your friendship?" I asked, as Luke nodded.

"Yea, damn right!" Jacob said. "Then there's next year. I'll be here and she'll be in Oberlin. Man, that's hundreds of miles away."

"Well, one thing is for sure, if she's not interested, you'll know right away. I have known Paula since we were kids and she doesn't say things just to be polite. Next year might not be a problem at all," I said, realizing I wasn't helping the situation. "If she's interested, then you'll just have to work out how you'll handle a relationship when you are separated. Meanwhile, you need to realize next year is three months away and time is wasting. Go for it, Big Man."

"Hell, yes!" Jacob said, but his voice revealed he was shaking in his boots--had he had any on. But he walked to the beach, snagged a free blanket and said, "Paula, how about sunning on Lookout Rock?"

Paula looked at him, smiled and said, "Sure".

By the time Paula and Jacob had reached the top of the falls, Michael and Mary Kathryn were deep in conversation, Bill and Linda were lying beside each other some distance away playing lovers' games as were Larry and Eugene. Luke and I walked down the river where we sat down, talking about this circle of friends which would soon be separated. It was a happy-sad time for us. We had continued talking for half an hour or so when Michael shouted, "Holy shit!" When we looked up, Paula and Jacob were standing atop Lookout Rock, locked in each others arms, engaging in what was way beyond a friendship kiss.

When they heard Michael, they broke their kiss, waved to us below and, holding hands, dived over the falls. When they reached the shore, the whole crowd was waiting for them. Jacob walked up, his entire face covered by a huge smile and Paula's was only slightly less so. "She's interested, guys," Jacob beamed and gave Paula a quick kiss which she returned. That, of course, called for a round of hugs. When we had all calmed down a bit, Bill said, "Ok, now that we've got our love lives straightened out--I guess we have--Michael, you and Mary Kathryn seemed to be solving the problems of the world over there, did you get finished?"

"We reached a stopping point," Mary Kathryn answered in a manner which made her meaning impossible to determine.

"In that case, I think it's time to eat," Bill said. There was complete agreement on that. "And I think we might dress for dinner," he added. We all slipped on shorts and shirts, spread out a tablecloth and put out the food. As you would expect when Margaret, Gabrielle and Mom prepared a picnic, we had a feast spread before us.

I was surprised when we found one of the baskets contained two bottles of Dad's good wine and real wine glasses. "Paula, I think you should, as the newest of the attached women, do the honors."

I was delighted when Paula took bread in her hands, lifted it up and said, "Blessed be the God of the Universe who has given us bread to feed and strengthen our bodies". We all said, "Amen". She then poured a glass of wine, lifted it up and said, "Blessed be the God of the Universe who has given us the fruit of the vine to gladden our hearts and cheer our souls". We again said, "Amen". Then she surprised me by spreading her arms and saying, "Blessed be the God of the Universe who created us to love, and who has given us friends and lovers to make our lives complete". We shouted, "Amen!"

We had a lazy meal, eating and talking, sometimes about the present, sometimes about the past and sometimes about the future. "I guess I hadn't really thought about what graduating high school meant until today," Paula mused. "It's not about school at all, is it?"

We all became very silent, each buried in his or her own thoughts. No, I hadn't really thought about what graduation meant beyond it being the end of high school, but I certainly did now. In a few short days or weeks at most, the Fellowship would not have lunch together--maybe ever again. We would soon be scattered for the summer--Paula to the New York mountains to work in a camp, Mary Kathryn, Bill and Linda in a church camp on a nearby lake, Luke to Sarasota, Michael to a monastery to struggle with his vocation and me to Sewanee. Only Jacob was an unknown--at least for me. "Jacob, where are you headed for the summer?"

"I have a job starting Monday week and basketball camp for two weeks later. After basketball camp, I guess I'll come back to my job. Think I might need some extra money next year for phone calls," he grinned as he looked at Paula. Paula beamed back at him.

"Ok, you two," Linda said, "when did all this stuff get started?" Leave it to Linda to want to know everything.

"Honest? I can't really say," Jacob mused. "When I joined this group, Paula and I were kinda the odd-balls. Then I started having some problems with my dad, nothing real serious, I guess, but it was bugging me and I found Paula was willing to listen--I mean really listen. She wasn't all the time giving me advise, but asking the right questions to get me thinking. Then she never treated me as some kind of jock hero without a brain. She became my very best friend, the kind of friend I had never had before."

"When Michael was hurt, I lost it. I had never had to deal with the possibility of someone close to me dying and there was Michael, whom I respected beyond measure and looked up to, at death's door. He had become a brother I had always wanted and never had and he was dying. Not only that, he was dying because of hatred--someone hated the brother I had just found and come to love. When I came unglued, Paula was there, not telling me I was a sissy or that I shouldn't be upset, she just held me and let me bawl--something I hadn't done since I was a kid."

"Later I realized I kept reminding myself that I was a free spirit and wasn't about to get tied to one woman--and didn't know why I needed to remind myself." Jacob smiled and continued, "Next thing I know, I couldn't wait to see Paula in the morning and I kept looking for her in the hall and decided I must be nuts. I was also frightened--scared shitless would be more like it. I had never asked a girl out who said 'no', but that was because I was a basketball jock and showed them a good time. I knew that if I asked Paula to go out, she'd probably say 'yes', but it would be as friends. I kept telling myself I wasn't falling for her because she never gave any indication she thought of me other than as a friend and a member of the Fellowship. I was afraid that if I did fall for her and she said 'no', my little ego couldn't take it. Then today when I saw her naked"--Jacob blushed--"I don't mean I suddenly got sex on my mind... well, I did, but... well, I realized that Paula was a beautiful, strong woman... well, I realized that before, but... well, what I mean is I suddenly realized that all that talking I had done to myself was wasted. I mean, I knew that I had fallen for Paula the day I first saw her, but... well... actually, I tried it out on Matt and Luke just to hear myself say it and it sounded right. I was shaking like a leaf when I asked her to go to Lookout Rock with me and, Man!" Jacob was speechless.

"Paula, when did the bug bite you?" Linda demanded to know.

"It was a gradual thing. I can tell you when that redhead came over to Michael the day of election and admitted the better man had won, I found I had immense respect for him. And as he said, as the odd couple in this bunch, we became close friends. When I discovered he was funny, he was gentle and caring as well as being a real man, I looked forward to seeing him and spending time with him. All the time I was reminding myself that I didn't want to get hurt again and when I was convinced Jacob would never intentionally hurt me, I almost turned loose, but then there was college next year and Jacob would still be here. I didn't want to get involved and then be separated again. But today when he came to me like a little boy, yet very much a man, I knew what I had been hiding from myself. I don't use the word lightly, but I knew that I had fallen in love with a redheaded boy/man and I was happy."

"It's the water," Luke said solemnly. "And this special place. It just breeds love." Of course all this called for a round of hugs and celebration.

I remembered that we hadn't finished the wine and brought out the second bottle, and we toasted the newest couple in the Fellowship.

We were all sitting on the bed now and Luke said, "Ok, gang, Matt and I have to have speeches ready for Sunday. Ideas?"

"Given this year--actually this spring--at Independence, you might call them 'The Good, Bad and Ugly'," Linda laughed.

"Hey, that might not be so way out," Jacob said.

"Yea, remember Matt's composition had sections called darkness and light," Paula mused. "I think there's something there."

"Matt could do darkness and Luke light," Eugene suggested. "I think that is a good idea--darkness and then light and there could be also be an aspect of past, present and future."

"Hey, we could even do a kind of dialog or point/counterpoint rather than two straight speeches," I suggested. With Paula taking notes with a pen and paper Mom had thoughtfully put in a picnic basket, we did a brainstorm and, within a short time, had an outline of a single speech to be given by Luke and me.

After we had finished, we all sorta flopped down on the bed and a blanket or two next to it and fell asleep--sleep ranks next to food for teenagers, I think.

When I waked up, Mary Kathryn was rubbing oil into the scar on Michael's chest and stomach. When I looked at her she said, "Vitamin E oil. It's supposed to make the scarring less. I think it's helping."

"I don't know whether it's helping or not, but the scar certainly looks less frightening than it did last week."

"Yea, then it looked as if I had been poorly put together from spare parts," Michael said. "And of course if the oil is doing no good for the scar, it's still kinda nice to have your chest rubbed, especially your nipples!"

Mary Kathryn gave him a playful smack and said, "No spare parts, Michael. You have no spare parts," and laughed as she kissed Michael's chest--actually one of his nipples.

Luke must have heard us talking for he had now rejoined the land of the living. Bill and Linda were still asleep, but Paula and Jacob had gone back to the top of the falls. I couldn't tell whether they were asleep or just lying very still beside each other. I shouted, "Paula, time to get naked again!" She raised up and gave me a high sign and started stripping off her shirt and shorts. Jacob was right behind her and when both were in their birthday suits, they grabbed hands and dived.

The shouting and splashing was enough to get Bill and Linda back with us. As Bill walked over he asked, "Michael, want to get in the water? I understand Chelsea said it was ok."

"I sure do. I could use some help getting up. Getting up and down still hurts sometimes." Bill reached down as did I and we lifted Michael to his feet. "Thanks, guys, once I get on my feet, I'm ok." Mary Kathryn put her arm around his waist and he hers and the two of them walked into the water. I didn't think Michael would be doing any diving for a while. But he did swim. Later he said it had hurt a bit, but moving in the water actually was easier than trying to do too much moving on land.

We swam and played around in the water for an hour I guess and then all flopped down on the bed again. It was a bit crowded, but we all sat Indian style facing the center. Actually, Larry and Eugene and Bill and Linda had stacked up blankets and pillows to "expand" the bed so we could all get around.

Michael had overdone the swimming and being in the water, I'm afraid, and Linda, of course, pointed that out. She and Mary Kathryn arranged pillows so he could lie back, but still be a part of the group.

As soon as we were settled, talk got very serious very quickly. "Ok, we've taken care of the rest of the world by getting Matt and Luke on the right track for their speeches, but we need to talk about us for a change," Linda said. "We'll be splitting up for the summer, right? I think we ought to give some thought to the summer and to the future. Bill and I are going to Camp St. Francis for senior high camp. We'll leaving Sunday the thirteenth--Mary Kathryn, you and Michael are going as well, right?"

"I am, but..."

"I don't think I'm up to it right now," Michael said. "When Mary Kathryn leaves, I'm going to a special camp to do some work which I can do, even if I'm not completely well."

"Looks to me as if you're pretty near well now," Paula observed.

"Well, I know I have a long way to go yet," Michael said. "I think I better kinda take it easy."

"But I'm going," Mary Kathryn said, "and I have told Fr. Tom I'd stay for the third and fourth grade camp the following week as a counselor."

"I didn't know that!" Linda exclaimed. "Bill and I are too! I'm also staying for the middle school camp the following week."

"So am I," Mary Kathryn said. "I didn't know you were. We have really been missing out on keeping up with each other lately."

"I wonder why?" Larry laughed. "It's not as if something has been going on, NOT!"

"Bill is doing a third and fourth grade camp! I can't believe it!" Jacob exclaimed. "They're just kids. You'll have to wipe their noses and probably their butts."

"Hey, watch your mouth," Bill laughed. "I adore kids and I especially like them before they start thinking they're adults. It's the middle school ones that I think I would kill. They think they are grown and get into all sorts of stuff they can't handle--remember??? And, besides, the girls are at least twenty years older than the boys and a head taller!"

"And they would be after your bod, Bill," Mary Kathryn laughed.

"Actually, they won't get a chance. I'd strangle any little bitch who tried," Linda laughed. "But after the third and fourth grade camp, Bill will be in basketball camp with Jacob for two weeks. I'll do the middle school camp. I know how hard life is for middle school girls so I wanted to do that. And, as he said and I discovered, Bill loves kids. We lucked out in that they were back to back with the senior high camp and I think three weeks is enough for anyone."

"Jacob and I will be in basketball camp the last two weeks of June, getting back here July 1," Bill said."

"Yea, I have a job this summer. I'll be working through the first week in August except for basketball camp. I got a construction job. Should keep me in shape because I know I'll get all the scut work. At least it will be out of town. I'm staying with an aunt in Lexington. My dad and I have worked through a lot of crap, but I think being away will be good for both of us. But now that there's..." Jacob looked at Paula and, being a typical redhead with fair skin, his blush just about lit up the falls.

"Not to worry. You wouldn't see me anyway," Paula said and kissed Jacob on the nose. "I leave Sunday the eleventh for the New York mountains to work in music therapy in a camp for kids with problems--not that there seem to be any without--and will be there until the last of July. I guess this new relationship gets an early test."

"Which it will pass with flying colors," Eugene, who had been very quiet, said.

"How about you, Eugene? What does the summer hold for you?"

"I wish I knew. There's the federal trial of McBride coming up and I suspect it will drag on and on. So I guess I'll spend most of my time in Lexington at the Federal Courthouse."

"And I'll be right with him although I have found a job. The guys who taped the concert and exhibition called Mom about my working as an intern this summer. I didn't think I could since I had no place to stay there and no way to get back and forth--besides, it's a long trip. Mr. Greentree said if I didn't mind sleeping on a pull-out couch on his sun porch, I could stay with his family. Eugene and I talked and we decided I needed to do it. Another separation, but I suspect he'll be there a lot of the time. Of course, I need the money and, while it doesn't pay a lot, it beats Mickey D's. Oh, and another bit of information not shared. When I told Mom about the scholarships and the house, she told me she and my father had taken out an insurance policy when I was born to pay for college. She has kept it up until I was eighteen. Not much, but there's $12,000 which will take care of my part of the house purchase."

"What are we going to do about that?" Luke asked. "We got that shit load of stuff and that was the end of it, it seems."

"With my mom Millie around? Not on your life! Mr. Fox got all the papers drawn up and the Oberlin Five are now a corporation which owns the house--well, except for the yearly payment. We have to pay Millie the $50,000 back, but she went ahead and made the purchase knowing we would all be in on it. Luke is president of Oberlin Five, Inc., Larry is vice president, Matt is the secretary and Paula is the treasurer. 'Money needs a woman's hand,' Millie said! We each own twenty percent of the stock and if Bill, Linda and Jacob graduate next year and get in Oberlin--if they want to--we can sell them shares. Then the next year we can sell shares to Michael and Mary Kathryn."

"Matt, you will be at Sewanee?" Linda asked.

"Yea, I'll leave Sunday the eleventh like you campers and be gone for four weeks."

"Luke, Sarasota?"

"Yea, unfortunately, for six weeks. I leave the eleventh and won't be back until July fifteenth. A hell of a long time to be separated from Sarang Hanun Pomul."

"Well, we have something to do before we all get separated for the summer," Michael said. "Uncle Michael wants to have a birthday party for the two former virgins...."

"Michael," I shouted and turned red as Luke laughed.

"We also promised Nelson we'd come back to the club as soon as Michael was up to it," Luke said.

"Ok," social director Linda took command again, "looks as if we will have between now and the eleventh to get all the Fellowship stuff done before we scatter. Michael, think you'll be up to Lexington by the tenth?" Michael nodded. "Ok, that's break-loose-at-the-club night. What about graduation parties?"

"Combine it with the birthday party," I suggested.

"No way, Jose," Linda said. "We have two party occasions and that means two parties. What time's graduation Sunday?"

"Two o'clock," Luke answered.

"Ok, family picnic here Sunday afternoon, beginning at four or four-thirty. Mary Kathryn, Paula and I will take care of that--actually, we'll get our parents to do it. Now, how about Wednesday night for the birthday bash?"

"Let's make it Thursday," Luke grinned. "It'll be a birthday party and the first week anniversary of..."

"Luke, I'm going to kill you!" I laughed and blushed.

"Sounds good to me. Social calendar set for the beginning of the summer. How about the end?" Linda asked.

"We'll all be free beginning August sixth," Jacob said. "And, as I recall, there's a house on a lake that needs painting and maybe furnishing. Sounds like it's just calling for the Fellowship to come to Lake Erie."

"Paula, you got a winner this time," Linda said. "We'll all go to Lake Erie for a paint party. We could stay a couple or three weeks to get the job done and have fun. But there's my mom who would never stand for it."

"How about if we took along some pretty great parents?" Larry asked.

"Like who?" Jacob asked.

"Like the whole damn bunch--I mean if you want them. I'd love to have that kind of house party since we'll not be seeing them for ages," Eugene said.

"Don't think mine would be interested," Jacob said, "but I sure wouldn't mind having the others."

"Same goes for mine," Bill added. "they're great folks, but the idea of spending two or three weeks with us just wouldn't be to their liking, but I'm all for it."

"Ok, that's settled," Linda said. "which is good because it's time to get home."

And so the ditch school day came to an end as we packed up everything and headed home. It was a day to remember. I wasn't at all unhappy that Luke's and my privacy had been invaded. We had years ahead of us to enjoy each other, but the days of the Fellowship--at least as we had known it--were coming to an end. As Luke and I took the last basket to the Jeep, he kissed me and said, "Sarang Hanun Pomul, friendship is what it's all about. I'm glad we had this day with those very special people in this special place."

"So am I, Yonghon Tongmu. So am I."

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